Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Excitement building for first Habitat home in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 25 years, Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in Wood County. But until now, none was constructed in Bowling Green. On Monday, shovels were dug into the ground at the first of three Habitat homes to be built in Bowling Green, near the corner of Manville and Clough streets. Mark Ohashi, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, said he once asked his predecessor, Maxine Miller, about her motivation for building the first home in Bloomdale. Miller said, “I just feel that everyone deserves a decent house to raise their family.” “It was that simple,” Ohashi said. Many take housing for granted, but those who live in inadequate homes or who can’t afford decent housing know how important a good home can be. “We’ve been able to make an incredible impact on 39 families in Wood County,” Ohashi said. “We’ve built all around Wood County, but never in Bowling Green.” Marlene Lerch, whose family was chosen for the new Habitat home, is not taking the home for granted. “I’ve been praying for a house for years,” said Lerch, who has lived in a manufactured home for about 10 years. “This will be a safe place for my family. This is all a new beginning.” Lerch, who is a home-based coach with WSOS Head Start, said she is looking forward to putting her “sweat equity” into the home construction. “I’m ready,” she said. Her three children are also ready for the move. “I’m looking forward to getting out of a trailer and getting an actual house,” said Eric Lerch, 11, who will start at Bowling Green Middle School in a couple weeks. “I actually get a new bedroom,” which he plans to paint red and silver, Eric said. His older sister, Audrey, who will be a senior at Bowling Green High School, has plans to paint her bedroom light gray. “Just being able to have it be our own. With this opportunity it’s going to be amazing,” Audrey said. Their mom said the…


Taco Bell interested in old Burger King site on South Main Street

Taco Bell representatives have contacted the City of Bowling Green about opening a restaurant in an existing building on the south edge of the city. A sign outside the former Burger King restaurant at 1130 S. Main St., in front of Wal-Mart, states that hiring is underway for Taco Bell. Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler said Monday that Taco Bell officials have been in contact with the city about changes to the building’s facade and landscaping. “I know we’ve been in contact,” Sayler said. Real estate records show the former Burger King property was purchased on June 7, by G-Made Inc. for $520,000.  


Democrats choose Hubbell-Staeble to run for state representative seat

On Saturday, the Wood County Democratic Party Central Committee voted unanimously to name Aidan Hubbell-Staeble the Democratic Candidate for District 3 State Representative, which covers all of Wood County. This position was vacant due to the resignation of Daniel Gordon from the race. Hubbell-Staeble will be running against Republican State Rep. Theresa Gavarone. “Aidan brings innovative ideas, proven leadership abilities and would be a great representative for us down in Columbus,” stated Mike Zickar, Wood County Democratic Party chairperson. Hubbell-Staeble is a lifelong Bowling Green resident and former president of the Bowling Green State University College Democrats. A member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union through the Kroger Company, he is completing a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy at Bowling Green State University. His work in the community includes annually volunteering for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Bowling Green and coaching an indoor youth soccer team. “I’m excited for this opportunity and pledge to earn Wood County voters’ trust and to never be a rubber stamp,” said Mr. Hubbell-Staeble. “Our legislature could do a better job planning for the future of our state, and I’m looking forward to working very hard in a bipartisan way to make this vision a reality.” Hubbell-Staeble’s platform includes a focus on affordable quality housing to attract young families, supporting Medicaid expansion and increasing oversight of for-profit charter schools. “I believe that our state legislative body should be representative of our citizens,” said Hubbell-Staeble. “We don’t need more business owners or more lawyers, we need more people with a stake in how our government is run.” Hubbell-Staeble is getting in the race late, taking over after Gordon withdrew from the race earlier this year. “I’ll have to work for every vote I get,” he said. Though young, Hubbell-Staeble has years of experience in political campaigns and issues. “I’ve been volunteering for campaigns that I believe in for years,” he said. His first effort to have an impact was his involvement in the One BG Campaign when he was just 13 years old….


BG officials want answers about Nexus pipeline spill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline officials have some explaining to do. Bowling Green officials were satisfied with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s response to a spill last month of 20,000 gallons of non-toxic drilling fluid north of the city. But the response of the pipeline company has left the city with some questions. For example, City Council members Daniel Gordon and Greg Robinette have asked: – When did the spill happen? Ohio EPA officials have said the spill was reported on July 17. However, emails from Nexus officials have stated the spill occurred on July 16. – How quickly did Nexus report the spill? Was the reporting done in a reasonable timeframe? – What kind of bentonite was involved in the spill? Though non-toxic, if it was the acidic form, are measures being taken to mitigate and monitor potential harm? – Does the Ohio EPA consider the Nexus decision to halt cleanup efforts at night a reasonable response? – Should Nexus crews have been prepared to work through the night? When contacted by Bowling Green Independent News about some of these questions, Nexus officials declined to talk on the phone and asked for the questions to be submitted in writing. A Nexus emailed statement said the pipeline company “remains committed to safe and environmentally responsible practices, including constructing the project in accordance with applicable environmental permitting requirements.” Though previous emails from Nexus stated the spill occurred on July 16, when asked about the conflicting dates, Adam Parker, who handles stakeholder engagement for Nexus gas transmission, changed the date to July 17 at approximately 6 p.m. The Ohio EPA has stated that Nexus crew members left the scene of the spill rather than continuing to clean up. Parker stated the Nexus crews temporarily suspended activities due to safety concerns related to working along the busy road after dark. When asked if Nexus has a policy in place requiring workers to continue with cleanup until it is completed, Parker responded with the following statement: “The project’s various plans and permits were filed…


Firefly Nights on Aug. 17 to close some downtown streets

In conjunction with the August Firefly Nights Festival scheduled for Aug. 17, certain street closures and parking restrictions will be imposed in downtown Bowling Green. Beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday, on-street parking will be prohibited on Main Street. At 4 p.m. on Friday, Main Street between Court Street and Washington Street will be closed to vehicular traffic. While Main Street is closed, no through traffic will be permitted on Clough Street. Wooster Street will remain open for east and westbound traffic throughout the festival. During the Main Street closing, detour routes for local and truck traffic will be posted. All streets will reopen and parking will be reinstated on Friday following the event. The festival is scheduled to occur from 6 – 10 p.m. Details may be found on the Firefly Nights Festival website – www.fireflynightsbg.com.


Unleashing skills of dogs to serve human beings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The black lab Porsche kept her eyes on her trainer, despite the dog treats scattered on the floor in front of her – including one sitting on her paw. Her salivary glands sent drops of slobber onto the floor, but she continued to obey the order to “leave.” Porsche is in training to become a service dog for Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, located under the Ability Center umbrella in Toledo. She and Jordan Kwapich, client service coordinator with Assistance Dogs, presented a program recently for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Kwapich, a Bowling Green State University graduate, works to match up service dogs with the people they will serve. The program currently has about 150 matches, and places about 20 dogs a year. “I have been a dog lover all my life,” so the job is a perfect match for her, Kwapich said. Her job is to screen clients before they get service dogs. “I get a feel of what their personalities are,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing – matching the personalities together.” “Our goal is to help people be as independent as they want to be,” Kwapich said. Most of the dogs trained are Labrador or golden retrievers. “We love their temperament,” she said. “They are very social and friendly.” Not all canines are made to be service dogs. “We look for a dog that’s very confident, work driven, not afraid of things.” They must also have a lot of energy. “They need to keep up with their person’s needs.” The agency trains dogs to fill the roles of service dogs, special needs dogs, and school therapy dogs. Most start their training as puppies, and are placed with a person when they reach 2 years old. “They have most of the puppy stuff out of their systems by then,” Kwapich said. The dogs are trained to perform such tasks as picking up dropped items, pushing or pulling open doors, delivering a telephone to their owner, helping with transfers from chairs or to bed, retrieving…


County voters to face two levies on fall ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County voters will have two county-wide issues to decide in the November election. Neither are asking the voters for more millage – which was very important to the county commissioners as they deliberated the tax levy requests earlier this year. One levy is a reduced renewal levy, dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills for Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The duration of that levy is five years. The other is a replacement 1-mill levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. During a presentation by Wood Lane officials earlier this year, Superintendent Brent Baer talked about the “dynamic growth in services” that the board is seeing. And Martha Woelke, of the board, said great deliberation went into the levy request. “We did everything we can to maximize state and federal money,” she told the commissioners. The board has been able to reduce its levy collections some years, but feels that 2.45 mills is the lowest it can go for the renewal. When people with developmental disabilities waive their right to institutional care, they are picked up by community based services – like Wood Lane. That agency then identifies their needs and develops plans to meet them, Baer said. The waivers allow for federal funding, but the community agency must still pick up 40 percent of the costs, said finance officer Steve Foster. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual,” Baer said. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. About five years ago, there were 226 consumers on waivers. Now there are 425. Baer expects that number to double again in the next five years. The board may need to be back in five years, asking for a greater levy, but this should do for now, Baer said. The Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board started out asking for an increase in levy dollars, from the…


Local farm tours to plant seeds of knowledge

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Agriculture is big business in Wood County. And while local residents are surrounded by rich farmland, many may still be unaware of locally grown foods served at their kitchen tables and those shipped round the world. To help spread that information, the first Wood County Ag-Venture self-driving farm tour is being held on Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seven local farms and agricultural companies are opening up their barns and businesses for local residents to tour. “Agriculture is our number one workforce, so we want people to understand what we do and how important it is,” said Lesley Riker. “A lot of people don’t know where their food comes from.” The tours are open to the public, and every stop will have activities for children. This is the first time for a county-wide tour to be organized, said Julie Lause, of the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District, which is one of the sponsors. “We were inspired by some of our neighboring counties,” Lause said. “Agriculture in Wood County is the top business and people don’t realize how extensive agriculture can be,” she said. “They don’t realize what it takes to create the products we eat.” Some of the stops on the tour ship their products internationally. “They want to tell our story,” Lause said of the farms on the tour. “They really want people to know what goes on behind the scenes.” Also sponsoring the Ag-Venture tour is the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “It’s a great opportunity for tourism in the county, and making people aware of ag-businesses in the county,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the economic development commission. There are more than 1,000 farms in Wood County. Here’s how they rank with the rest of Ohio’s counties: 1st in value of grain sold. 5th for soybean crops planted. 6th in total value of agricultural products sold. 8th in total value of vegetables sold. 13th in total value of greenhouse sales. 17th in total value of aquaculture sales. 181st in…


Monday is beginning of National Health Center Week

(Submitted by Wood County Health Department) Wood County Health Department is celebrating the Wood County Community Health Center during National Health Center Week. Wood County Community Health Center, one division of the health department, is being recognized for the services provided to the community during National Health Center Week. Primary care, reproductive health, behavioral health and an onsite pharmacy are just a few services offered at the health center. No one is turned away because of income level or insurance status. During National Health Center Week last year, the Community Health Center won the title of Ultimate Health Center Champions by popular vote. The health center is defending its title in the Featherweight Division this year through voting that runs until Aug. 17. You can vote once per day by visiting https://www.ohiochc.org/page/champs. The Community Health Center, in collaboration with the Health Promotion and Preparedness Division of Wood County Health Department, will host an event Tuesday titled “Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Lifestyles: A community-wide fight against childhood obesity.” Speakers attending are Health Commissioner Ben Batey; Certified Family Nurse Practitioner Katherine Barricklow and Behavioral Health Specialist Fran Leass from Wood County Community Health Center; Nutritionist Lauren Snyder from Wood County WIC; and Dr. Melissa Moore from Wood County Medical Associates. Topics will include the effects of trauma during early childhood, fitness, nutrition, the negative impact of obesity on the body and Community Health Assessment data. Community leaders have been invited to come and gather information to share. For more information about Wood County Community Health Center, call 419-354-9049, visit WCHealthCenter.org or check out WCHealthCenter on Facebook. The mission of Wood County Health Department is to prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and protect the health of everyone in Wood County. Our Community Health Center provides comprehensive medical services for men, women and children. We welcome all patients, including uninsured or underinsured clients, regardless of their ability to pay, and we accept most third-party insurance. For more information, visit WoodCountyHealth.org


West Wooster and South Main to be affected by gas line work

Columbia Gas of Ohio has provided the City with the following tentative work schedule for the continued installation of the natural gas line installation occurring downtown. Beginning Aug. 10, crews will begin installing the natural gas main line along the eastbound lane of West Wooster Street, which will require the closure of that lane of traffic. This portion of the installation is anticipated to last through next week. Installation on South Main Street will continue, resulting in a single lane of traffic through next week as well. A detour route around the work zone will be posted. Restoration and service line installation crews will continue following the main line installation. Currently, service line efforts are focused on City Parking Lot 1. Once they are complete in Lot 1, the focus will shift back to Main Street. Restoration crews are continuing work on E. Oak, N. Main, and East Court Street. Questions about the Columbia Gas project should be directed to Raquel Colon, External Affairs Specialist for Columbia Gas. Colon may be reached at rcolon@nisource.com or 419-539-6206.


Steeplejack takes rare skills to wuthering heights

By JAN LARON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bill Meyers has spent much of his life looking down on Northwest Ohio. As a steeplejack for more than 40 years, he has climbed up clock towers, church steeples, radio towers and nuclear cooling structures. Originally from Napoleon, Meyers has done much of his work here in Bowling Green –  from lighting the courthouse clock to renovating the historic dome at Trinity United Methodist Church. Just gazing up at tall structures is enough to give some people a twinge of panic. But Meyers is quite comfortable working and walking at great heights. “I always liked being up in the air,” Meyers said recently as he took a break from working on the bell tower at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Bowling Green. As a child he had a treehouse with no ladder or rope. “Nobody could come up unless they could climb.” By age 15, he was doing freefall skydiving. “I should have been a bird.” Meyers was a student at BGSU in the 1970s when he started doing odd jobs for local landlords and government officials. It quickly became known that the young Meyers could handle heights, so his skills were tapped for putting up the first outdoor sirens in the county and helping install water towers in the city. As if that weren’t enough of a thrill, Meyers also took a side job wiring explosives and detonating them on a blasting job. Now at age 67, Meyers still free climbs and still appreciates a good challenge. Phil Whaley, an engineer with Poggemeyer Design Group, has worked on more than 100 jobs with Meyers over the years and considers the steeplejack to have rare skills. “That’s putting it mildly.” Whaley distinctly remembers Meyers walking the ridge of the towering St. Patrick’s Church near downtown Toledo. “It was like he was walking down a sidewalk,” Whaley said. As valuable as his handling of heights is Meyer’s ability to come up with inexpensive solutions to seemingly impossible to solve problems. “He’s never met a problem he couldn’t figure…


BG Transit marking its 30th anniversary

(Submitted by the City of Bowling Green) The City of Bowling Green’s public transportation system, the B.G. Transit, marks its 30th anniversary this year. Bowling Green’s transit system first began operating in 1988, when the owner/driver of Ramos’ Taxi requested the City to transition the service from private to public transportation. In the beginning of its public transit tenure, the system was known as “B.G. Taxi.” It had only one car and one driver, and operated solely within Bowling Green’s corporation limits. Over time, expansion and added progress occurred. Today, now named the B.G. Transit, it is a full-fledged Federal Transit Administration (5311 Rural) public transit system with seven vans—all of them accessible to persons with disabilities. Additionally, the system operates up to one mile outside the city’s limits; an expansion that took place in 2014. During 2017, the transit provided over 31,000 rides. The B.G. Transit’s ridership data, to date this year, indicate it is likely at least as many trips will be recorded in 2018. The City of Bowling Green’s current service provider is Black & White Transportation. They have served in that capacity since 2003. Quality focused, the B.G. Transit continuously receives high marks from both passengers and its primary funding source. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) last three onsite monitoring visits were conducted in 2008, 2012 and 2017. None of these extensive reviews resulted in any findings or follow-up actions; a rarity according to ODOT staff. Additionally, customer satisfaction surveys (conducted annually) yield high approval rates amongst B.G. Transit consumers, year after year. The B.G. Transit is open to everyone for use. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For rides originating and ending within Bowling Green’s corporation limits, the general fare (one-way) is $4. For rides originating and/or ending outside the city limits, the general fare is also currently $4. Half-priced fares are available to persons aged 65 years or older, children (4-13 years of age) and those with disabilities. Passengers’ personal care attendants and language interpreters…


Murder of Dawn Glanz to be featured on ‘Cold Justice’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s only unsolved murder will be focused on in an episode of “Cold Justice,” a true crime series on Oxygen cable channel on Saturday. The murder of Dawn Glanz, who was found dead in her home on Kensington Boulevard on May 9, 2013, will be examined in the show that attempts to solve cold cases. The autopsy found that Glanz, 66, a professor of art history at Bowling Green State University, suffered a sharp force injury of the scalp and was stabbed by an assailant. “The family approached us when the case stalled out,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. They suggested finding a TV show to profile the cold case. Hetrick said he consulted Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson, and contacted Tonya Rider, a Bowling Green State University professor and retired Toledo detective. They contacted Kelly Siegler, a former Houston prosecutor, who leads the investigations on “Cold Justice.” The TV crew spent several days in Bowling Green in October, filming for the show. The primary Bowling Green police officers featured on the show are Det. Brian Houser and Sgt Scott Kleiber. During their 10 days in Bowling Green, the “Cold Justice” crew re-interviewed witnesses and brought in their own technical experts. Hetrick has viewed the episode and was pleased with its adherence to the truth. “I’ve seen it. It’s very accurate,” he said. “Sometimes these crime shows take licenses – this does not.” Hetrick and the Glanz family are hoping the “Cold Justice” episode jogs some memories. “Hopefully somebody has some information we do not,” Hetrick said. “We’re hoping this will bring some closure for the family and some justice for Dawn.” The family has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading for the resolution of the case. If the case is solved, it would clear up Bowling Green’s sole unsolved murder. “This is the only one we have,” Hetrick said.


Public can now access city’s tree inventory

Have you ever wondered what the street tree is in front of your home or what the overall environmental benefits are for all of the city’s trees? The City of Bowling Green has more than 7,600 trees growing in the right of way or on city property. Each tree is entered in the city’s tree inventory. The public can now access the tree inventory to look up a city tree or learn about the environmental benefits the city’s trees provide on the TreeKeeper website. To view a guide for using the tree inventory or to find other information on caring for trees, visit the Arborist website. Bowling Green has a history of making a strong commitment to its trees. The city has been named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation for 38 years. Additionally, BG has received the Growth Award 24 times – the most in Ohio – for enhancing its tree program.


BG Board of Education studying school safety options

By JAN LARSON McLBAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School officials met this week to discuss how to keep students and staff safe. A special meeting was held Tuesday afternoon, with the board going into executive session to discuss safety issues. In addition to the board and superintendent, Police Chief Tony Hetrick, Fire Chief Bill Moorman, plus some teachers and administration members were included in the discussion. “We’re looking at people who are on the ground floor of the issue,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “We want to try to be proactive,” he said. “It’s not something you can put on a shelf and forget about.” Because the discussion took place in executive session, Scruci did not reveal any specific details of the safety plans being considered. “This is going to be an ongoing situation,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve safety.” The district plans to explore grant opportunities that will pay for safety measures, rather than attempting a levy for safety expenses. However, grant funding has its limitations. “The problem with grant money is sometimes it’s only for one year,” Scruci said. The district is studying changes to its buildings as well as personnel for safety. “We will explore every part of our partnership with police to improve the safety,” he said. As the district had the new middle school designed and constructed, new safety measures were put into place. “We looked at the original designs and we made some changes to improve safety,” Scruci said. For example, the locker bays in the new addition do not stick out into the hallway, but rather are straight down the hallways. The new doors to the bus area are solid, not glass. And ballistic shields will soon be installed on the cafeteria windows. “We did things intentionally with the design,” he said. As with the other school buildings, “The Boots” will be installed on each doorway to keep out intruders. Scruci said the district will continue discussing increased safety measures with the police and fire divisions. “We’re fortunate to…